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There is really no way of "understanding" the concept of naming compounds. It's a pretty arbitrary system, really.
However, there are a few steps you can take to simplify the process, and make it more easy to understand. Try...
1.) Identifying what type of compound the question is asking you to name.
2.) Performing step #1 should allow you to identify some algorithm by which you need to name this compound. Over time, you will develop different algorithms for naming specific types of compounds.
3.) Next, actually perform the algorithm you've developed from practice to the specific example you are given.
The hardest part in any sort of problem solving is first developing your own algorithm that makes sense to YOU. Once you've done this, solving the actual problems is a piece of cake.
If you need help on developing these algorithms, go ahead and ask. Are there any types of compounds with which you have particular trouble naming?
Well, I know that there is a difference in the names (adding ide versus adding ate) between different elements; so I was wondering if there was a sort of easy method of remembering this/more steps
Also, I'm still in algebra 1, so algorithms are sort of out there for me.....
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The word algorithm just means "a specific method for solving a problem".
Although the word is usually associated with mathematics, it is certainly used outside of the field.
The best way to remember or memorize something, in my opinion, is to practice. As you practice, try to use your notes less and less until you are completely independent of them. Once you can do this, you've both memorized the material that you need to memorize and you've increased your aptitude at solving that type of problem.
Then, once you've memorized the things that you need to, you can begin working solely on the problem solving aspects of the problems.
So here is my strategy. When you have been given a formula:
1. IF it is binary check if it has a metal. If it does it is an ionic compound. To name an ionic compound, you write the name of the metal first, then the next element, but ending in a -ide. So FeS is ionic, binary and should be Iron Sulf+ide = Iron Sulfide.
2. If it is binary and does not have a metal, start by naming the less electronegative atom first, and the second one has to end in an -ide. But, you need to indicate how many atoms of each. So CO2 is Carbon dioxide. N2O5 is Dinitrogen Pentaoxide.
3. If it is not a binary compound (more than 2 different elements) and it has a metal, you need to know the names of the common ionic groups like carbonate, phosphate etc. Then Fe3(PO4)2 is Iron Phosphate.
The ide versus ate: ide : is always when you have an ion formed of a single element. sulfide, phosphide, chloride. When you have a polyatomic ion, usually with oxygen in it, the naming can end in a ate, ite, ous etc. Then the polyatomic ion with the most oxygens is the -ate, the next is the ite and so on. Best way is to just memorize them. Carbonate, phosphate, perchlorate, sulfate.